Based on the 1997 stage play, Ang Larawan the Musicalwhich in turn was based on “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” by National Artist, Nick Joaquin. The film was set in 1941 just before the World War II in a mansion located in Manila. This movie is directed by Loy Arcenas under Culturtrain Productions Inc.
Finally, a full-length and old-fashioned Pinoy Musical Masterpiece that successfully executed its Musical Scenes and at the same time depicted a nostalgic feeling of Philippine History and Literature… Ang Larawan is truly worthy to be the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture that offers appreciation of our very own treasures. The movie will take you to Old Manila specifically in Intramuros set before the World War II. I must say that being a Period Movie, Ang Larawan exceeded expectations in terms of execution. From houses, walls, costumes and even down to the choices of words, I really can see the careful and extensive research done to achieve a perfect depiction of a film set in 1941 in the Philippines. I really like how Arcenas utilized different techniques especially on musical scenes. He effectively played around the same corner of the house in majority of the scenes but set a perfect and unique mood in each sequences that will make a feeling that it was shot somewhere else. Arcenas is faithful with the material and loves to keep intact with a certain scene while highlighting the emotions of the characters. This technique truly captivated me with every frame and it almost feel like I can see raw emotions from each of the characters. Ang Larawan’s success is of course attributed with the Musical production that composed of nearly 95% of the film’s running time. I am just amazed with Ryan Cayabyab’s composition as well as the interpretation of the characters. Joanna Ampil is truly impressive and deserving of the Best Actress Award as well. She got my attention most of the time. She was just brilliant and emotionally-engaging. Rachel Alejandro was a good support too. I really love majority of their duets as well. Paulo Avelino was also perfect with his role as Tony Javier. He may not sing as good as everyone else but he was convincing in his portrayal as a desperate and shady small-time pianist in the film. Aside from the amazing lead characters, the film is well-supported with other amazing performances of well-known celebrities and gem of Philippine showbiz. Their musical collaboration is some scenes are such a joy to watch on the big screen. If you are in to quality films and you love Philippine History and Literature, Ang Larawan might be one of your favorite films so far.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE?
Given that its a full-length Musical Film, expect that majority of conversations will be sang of course. Not-so-fan of the genres may find the movie boring given the formula. Also, to manage everyone’s expectations, Ang Larawan is more of a direct translation of a masterpiece which means that you should not be expecting grand musical numbers rather a series of conversations sang beautifully and with emotions. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea especially as compared with other MMFF 2017 Entries but Ang Larawan is truly a gem of Philippine cinema.
Christmas is fast approaching and so is the much anticipated and I must say, the now controversial Metro Manila Film Festival. Last year, MMFF took a bold risk in venturing a very wide and diverse list of movies generally having social impact and quality as a whole. 2016 was supposed to be “CHANGE IS COMING” year for the festival as quality films are being shown and showcased to the public. Unfortunately, the 2017 selection has somehow pulled a little bit backwards. Well, I won’t dwell much on my opinion on this year’s MMFF selection process but allow me to give you a bird’s eye view of the Eight (8) Official Entries that will serve as your movie guide. MC MOVIE REVIEW will also give its Fearless Prediction and Impression on each of the entries.
MOVIE #1: DEADMA WALKING
Director: Julius Alfonso
Casts: Joross Gamboa, Edgar Allan Guzman, Gerald Anderson, Eugene Domingo, Candy Pangilinan, Dimples Romana, Vin Abrenica,
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Producer: T-Rex Entertainment, OctoArts Films
SYNOPSIS: The film is all about gay best friends for life John and Mark whose friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish.
MC’s IMPRESSION: This movie reminds me so much of “DIE BEAUTIFUL” from last year’s MMFF. I can’t help but have a little comparison though at some point. Honestly, I didn’t like the Trailer but I am still watching this movie as support to the LGBT Family. I think this movie will be a good mixture of comedy and drama as expected.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST: Box-office wise, this might land somewhere between Top 4-5. Considering its mature theme, this will draw a much lesser crowd from family and conservative ones. Also, the BEST ACTOR AWARD is lurking somewhere in the movie.
MOVIE #2: ANG PANDAY
Director: Rodel Nacianceno & Coco Martin
Casts: Coco Martin, Awra Briguela, Julio Diaz, Jake Cuenca, Gloria Romero, McCoy de Leon, Elisse Joson, Ejay Falcon, Eddie Garcia, Michael de Mesa, Jaime Fabregas, Agot Isidro, Onyok Pineda
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama
Producer: CCM CREATIVE PRODUCTIONS, Inc., Viva Films & Star Cinema
SYNOPSIS: Lizardo, the immortal evil nemesis of Panday comes back from the world of darkness to once again bring havoc to the human race. With Flavio III not knowing that his bloodline is the only one capable of destroying Lizardo, he will have to scour different worlds to be able to gain the trust of the mythical power of the legendary sword.
MC’s IMPRESSION: It is a little bit tiring to see numerous big screen adaptation of Panday but somehow Coco Martin gave a little inspiration for me to consider this movie. Trailer-wise, I find it “lacking” in terms of fantasy feels. I am expecting it to be too melodramatic given the tendency of Filipino movies nowadays. Of course, let us not forget that this is also a Romantic Movie.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST: This will give Vice Ganda’s The Revengers (Unfortunately!) a little run for their money. Given the COCO MARTIN fever here in PH and somehow a very effective Marketing Strategy lately, the movie could land into Top 1 and Top 2. The movie might also be the best recipient of BEST EDITING, CINEMATOGRAPHY, BEST SOUNDTRACK and VISUAL EFFECTS. Well, somehow its a given.
SYNOPSIS: Based on the 1997 stage play, Ang Larawan the Musicalwhich in turn was based on “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” by National Artist, Nick Joaquin. The film was set in 1941 just before the World War II in a mansion located in Manila.
MC’s IMPRESSION: I am really amazed that the MMFF 2017 is welcoming this type of movie in their roster. Even though I am not musically-inclined, I found the Trailer to be pretty cool and awesome. It is truly seldom to see Musical-themed movies. For those seeking quality films this MMFF, Larawan might be first on their list. Hello! Its Paulo Avelino plus the Pillars of the Filipino Music Industry is behind these as well.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST: Given the trend of moviegoers of MMFF, most likely that this movie will unfortunately land in the last two spot of the BOX OFFICE. Majority of the moviegoers wanted to laugh and patronize Vice Ganda so they won’t mind skipping Larawan on their list. It is sad actually. The BEST ACTRESS, BEST PICTURE, Culture-Sensitive Award and Best Musical Scoring might belong under Larawan’s belt.
MOVIE #4: SIARGAO
Director: Paul Soriano
Casts: Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzales, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Wil Dasovich, Mica Javier, Roxanne Barcelo, Will Devaughn, Enchong Dee
Genre: Romance, Drama
Producer: TEN17P Productions
SYNOPSIS: Diego, a musician who returns to his hometown of Siargao to take a break from the chaotic life in Manila. There, he meets Laura, a fashion and beauty vlogger nursing a broken heart after her boyfriend dumped her. Along the way, they challenge each other as feelings grow between them. For Diego, returning to Siargao also means facing his past, including ex-flame Abi.
MC’s IMPRESSION:SIARGAO is quite a good choice as one of this year’s entries. The movie benefited well on Tourism-driven kind of Marketing Strategy that became effective for Sagada from the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana”. Compared with ALL OF YOU, this movie looks like a little serious on its approach. Also, people might be new with Jericho-Erich pairing which is relatively new on the big screen. Travel-junkies might also consider this movie especially those who are very much interested to visit the island of SIARGAO.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST:SIARGAO might be less appealing in terms of box-office returns compared with its closest competitor in the genre – ALL OF YOU. It might also land in the Bottom 3. Given the tried and tested chemistry of Jennylyn and Derek, SIARGAO might struggle a bit. Awards-wise, this might be the 2nd or 3rd Best Picture. After this movie, SIARGAO TOURISM statistics will definitely increase.
MOVIE #5: GANDARRAPIDO!: THE REVENGER SQUAD
Director: Bb. Joyce Bernal
Casts: Daniel Padilla, Vice Ganda, Piza Wurtzbach, Karla Estrada, Ejay Falcon, Lassy Marquez, MC, Wacky Kiray, RK Bagatsing, Loisa Andalio, Michael Flores
Genre: Comedy, Action, Adventure
Producer: Star Cinema and Viva Films
SYNOPSIS: The movie revolves around Emy, who is protective of his younger brother Chino. As evil forces start invading Earth, Emy is forced to unleash his superpowers. Chino’s powers are also activated as he turns 21, giving him super speed and earning him the name Rapiddo. The fun and conflict start when another superhero, Kweenie enters their lives. They must all form a superhero squad in defending the Earth from dark forces.
MC’s IMPRESSION: Well, if its Vice Ganda, it must be blockbuster. Despite the movie’s premise in being non-sense as expected, moviegoers just wanted to laugh inside the cinema. If that’s the case, then The Revengers will truly rake millions of cash in the Box Office. From the usual Vice Ganda’s breed of humor and slapstick style, people won’t mind seeing a trashy movie just for pure cinematic entertainment.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST: Definitely, this movie will be in bottle-neck between Ang Panday but generally, The Revengers will top the Box Office among the 8 entries for this year’s MMFF. They won’t probably win any awards but the movie will surely shatter box office returns as expected.
SYNOPSIS: Gab and Gabby, two individuals who have strong opposing views on love and marriage, fall in love and agree to be in a committed relationship. As they hit their 3-year mark, the couple find themselves back to where they started as they asked themselves where their relationship is headed.
MC’s IMPRESSION: I am self-confessed fan of Dan Villegas and as well Derek and Jennylyn so definitely ALL OF YOU is part of my movie list. The trailer looks promising as it always satisfy my craving for the kind of movie Dan Villegas is producing. Compared with the previous films under his belt, I think that ALL OF YOU might pull itself a little bit in terms of plot attack.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST: Given the tried and tested Dan Villegas magic and Jennylyn-Derek superb chemistry on-screen, ALL OF YOU might land in the Top 4 of the Box Office List. Moreover, Jennylyn might not win the Best Actress Award this time since it might be for Ang Larawan’s Joanna Ampil.
MOVIE #7: MEANT TO BEH
Director: Chris Martinez
Casts: Vic Sotto, Dawn Zulueta, JC Santos, Daniel Matsunaga, Andrea Torres, Gabbi Garcia, Ruru Madrid, Baste
Genre: Family, Romance, Comedy
Producer: Octo Arts Films, MZet Productions, APT Entertainment
SYNOPSIS: The story involves a married couple who decided to get separated after realizing they don’t love each other. Their children, who was affected by this separation, embarked on a mission to save the marriage of their parents despite having separate relationships together.
MC’s IMPRESSION: Upon seeing the Trailer, I was like DUUUH! Well, this is by far the weakest MMFF entry among the 8 films. I find the storyline to be very shallow and not worthy to be in the MMFF. Well, that’s basing from a great and diverse movie selection from last year. Meant To Beh might not be included in my movie list to watch out for.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST: Despite being equally trashy as The Revengers, Meant To Beh will either land in the Bottom 3 or Top 5 the most in terms of box office. I still believe that Bosing has solid fans out there to support this lame movie.
MOVIE #8: HAUNTED FOREST
Director: Ian Lorenos
Casts: Jane Oineza, Jameson Blake, Maris Racal, Jon Lucas, Raymart Santiago, Joey Marquez, Jerald Napoles, Betong Sumaya, Myrtle Sarrosa, Miho Nishida, Beverly Salviejo, Kelvin Miranda
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Producer: Regal Films
SYNOPSIS: Haunted Forest tells the story of Nica, a teenager forced to leave her life behind when her estranged policeman father who got reassigned to the province. The once peaceful town is now haunted by “sitsit,” a supernatural being who preys on women, eventually leaving the victim’s lifeless body in the middle of the forest.
MC’s IMPRESSION: Being the only Horror in this year’s MMFF, expectations are high for Haunted Forest. I can’t help but compare this to their successful and breakthrough Horror Film – The Haunted Mansion which is by far the best in the genre of Pinoy Horror. Well, at first glance of the trailer, I think Haunted Forest is a competitive horror piece. How I wish there will be less special effects and related stuff to lessen the goofy feels instead of a scary one.
MC’s FEARLESS FORECAST: This movie is a strong contender of the Top 3 spot considering that Horror Films during the MMFF run is usually successful at the box office. Given the followers of Jane and Maris and as well as Jameson and Jon, the movie will truly draw a younger crowd. If the movie will be a word-of-mouth success, Haunted Forest might even give Ang Panday a quick run for their money.
Oh well! You might no entirely love this year’s selection but I do hope you will still support and patronize Pinoy Films this Holiday Season. Please note that CINEMA OPERATORS have full discretion on the Film Selections per area so be sure to catch those films you feel won’t make it on the cut.
The METRO MANILA FILM FESTIVAL will start on Christmas Day, December 25, 2017 and will end on the first week of January 2018.